From Historian to Dissident
Bruce N. Westergren, editor
[p.199]Now from this time forth which was in July 1834 Smith seemed to be in doubt where unto this thing would grow and began to upbraid D. Whitmer and abuse him as his natural custom was to do with those whom he feared, least they should become great in the sight of God or man, therefore, he haranged the conference and sought to destroy the confidence of the people present in D. Whitmer on whom he had bestowed all the gifts & power that he had himself received by inspiration by the laying on his hand according to the order of Heaven.
After Smiths return to Kirtland[,] Ohio[,] and after his ordering the first Elders of the church to go to Ohio there to receive their endowment from on high he hasted the finishing of the house at Kirtland which was commenced before he had gone to Zion to redeem her. He from this time began to be lifted up in the pride of his eyes, and began to seek riches and the glory of the world, also sought to establish the ancient order of things, as he & his counsellors Rigdon & Hyrum Smith pleased to call it. Therefore they began to form them-[p.200]selves into a secret Society which they termed the Brother of Gideon, in the which Society they took oaths that they would support a brother wright or wrong even to the sheding of blood.
thus those who belonged [to] this society were bound to Keep it a profound Secret never to reveal but ever to conceal these abominations from all and every person axcept those who were of the same Craft. But these things could not be kept a secret in consequence of betreyers who fel from their faith and revealed their Secrets.
thus things were carried on by Secret plots and midnight machinations, which Society was beginning to be established in Kirtland[,] Ohio[,] in the fall of 1836.1
The formation of these things together with adultery wickedness and abominations which grew and Multiplied in the heads and members of the Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints Brought Joseph Smith & his brother Hiram to an untimely end and also the scattering of the Church and [the] twelve who assumed the authority of leading the Church were Scattered from Nauvoo and Suffered great Affliction. As also James J. Strang who also professes to be appointed by a letter received from Joseph as being appointed Seer Revelator Profit & Successor of him Joseph, also Sidney Rigdon he drew away a portion after him.2
Now it came to pass that the twelve of whom Brigham Young is leader is [manuscript ends]
1. Whitmer is probably the only historian who has dated the origin of the Danite band (what he here terms Brother of Gideon) to 1836 in Kirtland; no other source yet known confirms this. In addition, this statement contradicts his earlier one [p.201]which stated that the Danites were organized in Missouri two years later, following Sidney Ridgon’s “Salt Sermon.” In the statement concerning Kirtland, Whitmer blames the band’s origins on Joseph Smith and the rest of the First Presidency of the church. It would be interesting to know what evidence he had of the Kirtland origins of the movement, if any.
2. Strang and Rigdon—both of whom have been discussed in earlier notes—were only two of a number of people who tried to assume the leadership of the church after the prophet’s death. Among this number were William Smith, Lyman Wight, William Bickerton, and John E. Page, as well as Brigham Young and the Quorum of the Twelve (see D. Michael Quinn, “The Mormon Succession Crisis of 1844,” Brigham Young University Studies 16 [Winter 1976]: 187-233).